The importance of the early and proper education of children (part 2)
PHARAOH'S daughter is worthy of a high eulogium, for her kind assistance to Moses, a poor forsaken child; for snatching him from a watery grave; and for what is yet greater, providing him with the means of education. "As soon as his age and capacity would admit, says a celebrated DIVINE, he was sent to school, where under the most improved instructors, he made uncommon proficiency in his studies." "He was learned, saith an inspired WRITER, in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds."
BY educating this child, O Thermutis! thou didst perform great service to mankind; and didst heap upon thyself exalted encomiums. This benevolent act, gave thee more joy, than all the gay pleasures of a splendid life; added more charms to thy person than sparkling eyes, blushing cheeks, and curling trusses.
THE supreme glory, shall be ascribed to God, while blooming flowers shall be scatter'd in the paths, in which, O Thermutis! thou walkest with thy maid∣ens down to the River, from which thou didst draw Moses, the son of a slave.
SINCE such wondrous acts are performed, and such great good accrues to mankind, by the means of education, it is of the utmost importance to cultivate by learning, those latent sparks of genius in the minds of children, that they may be rightly employed for their own advantage, and for the benefit of society.
THE more that true knowledge is diffused, the more will true peace and happiness be enjoyed; the more safe will be the rights and liberties of each individual; and the more likely will be the holy religion of the blessed Redeemer to prevail and flourish.
A GENERAL diffusion of useful knowledge, will have a happy tendency to make the inhabitants of the world, as are the citizens of America enlightened and free; to prevent the ambitious and designing from usurping either political or ecclesiastical tyranny; and to qualify a people to be happy subjects and virtuous rulers.
"TYRANNY, bigotry and superstition, says ONE, are supported only by gloomy ignorance." "These, whenever the divine ray of knowledge shall illume the benighted parts of the earth, will flee, like Satan," "with the shades of the night."
IN this Country, where liberty is the basis of its government, where birth and riches give no preeminence; "and where merit alone has the surest claim" to distinction, there are but very few, who may not be so trained up or educated, as to be qualified to fill with reputation the highest places of honor and trust; or at the least, to make honest, useful and peaceable citizens. If therefore, CHILDREN are trained up in the way they should go, when they shall have arisen to years of maturity, they will not depart from it; but in it with pleasure will delight to walk.
FROM what has been said upon this subject, we may infer, that it is the indispensable duty of parents, to rightly train up or educate their children in that way, in which they should go when they are old.
AS children come into the world destitute of ideas, as we have shown, they ought early to be furnished with the means of education, that their young and tender minds, which can easily be moulded into any form, might be replenished with suitable & necessary know∣edge. It is, therefore, dangerous to defer the edu∣cation of children till they shall have imbibed certain sentiments, notions and ideas, which, however ridiculous and absurd, they will never renounce.
MANY parents really injure their children by not giving them a proper education for the calling, in which it is probable they will follow, at as early a period of life, as would have been consistent with their capacities for learning and improvement.
NOTWITHSTANDING a very considerable knowledge of the arts and sciences, may, at an advanced age of life be obtained; yet it has been remarked and that very justly, that most of such persons will be contracted in their views and sentiments, practicably infallible and self conceited, and illiberal and uncharitable in most of their proceedings. They are commonly destitute of all delicate impressions, their hearts being as hard as the adamantine rock. If such persons sustain a religious character or act in a sacred profession, they will impute all their inconsistencies to the sacred spirit of God, or perhaps for a conscientious zeal for his glory. By their blind, absurd and infatuated zeal, together with their pretended orthodoxy, they essentially injure the cause of true religion, which they have been endeavoring to support. The opinions or sentiments of such, can by reason no more be altered, than thunder clouds can be turned, or the everlasting hills be moved by the voice or strength of man. Nothing but fear, shame and punishment, withhold them from imitating the deluded followers of the Eastern Impostor, in unsheathing the SWORD of JEHOVAH, and pointing it at the breasts of those, who fall not in with their fanatical notions and persecuting principles. Such, my friends, are the natural and dreadful consequences, of neglecting the early and proper education of children.
SUFFER me, therefore, ye PARENTS present, to di∣rect a few words of address to you, upon this important and interesting concern.
PERMIT one, my friends, who experimentally knows not the joys, fears and anxieties of a parent, to intreat you for your own honor, and for what is yet far greater, for the future prosperity of your children, to give to them as good an education as you can consistently with your several abilities. The future characters and conduct of your children, yea, their everlasting happiness in an eminent sense, depend upon the education they shall receive from you. You can perform no greater kindness, and manifest no greater parental affection for them, than by giving them an opportunity to obtain a useful and valuable education. In this way, you will probably prevent their own misery and ruin; and at the same time perform an essential service to mankind. To thus assist them, is far more commendable, than it is to bestow on them riches and hereditary honors. By so doing, you will prepare them for usefulness in the world, for honor and happiness, and for a proper management of themselves, when they shall appear upon the stage of action, to take a part in life's great DRAMA.
MANY a bright genius, have spent their days in the low and humble walks of life, for the want of having their minds improved by education; and finally have gone down to the grave, without ever appearing to advantage in the world. Hearken to the language of a celebrated POET, after contemplating, in a bury∣ing yard, the monuments erected to the memory of the dead:—
"Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
"Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
"Hands that the rod of EMPIRE might have sway'd,
"Or wak'd to exstacy the living lyre.
"But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
"Rich with the spoils of time did ne'er unroll;
"Chill penury repress'd their noble rage,
"And froze the genial current of the soul.
"Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
"The dark unfathom'd caves of OCEAN bear;
"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
"And waste its sweetness in the desert air."
SUFFICIENT has been said to persuade you, my friends, not to neglect the early and proper education of your children. In educating them, you will aim to have them instructed in heavenly knowledge.
A FEW words, in addition to what has been said, respecting their spiritual instruction, will not be considered as unnecessary.
AS long as they are under your particular care and direction, you will, like the pious and most amiable PARENT, the AUTHOR of the text, be frequently cal∣ling upon them to obtain heavenly knowledge; and with all their getting to get a wise and understanding heart. Guard as much as possible, against their embracing such religious sentiments, as are dishonorary to God, or inconsistent with that benevolent character, in which he is clothed both in the BOOK of reason and revelation. In a particular manner, guard against their being enthusiastical in religion; against their minds being absorbed in a system, which literally shuts the gate of mercy upon most of the human race.
NEVER become guilty of instructing, yea nor even countenancing them in embracing such religious sentiments, as involve in them such palpable absurdities, as neither Angels, Man nor Devils, can ever make to appear plausible to a rational and unprejudiced mind. Always endeavor to represent God to them, in the most amiable, endearing and benevolent character; that they may love, not servilely fear and dread HIM, as some awful, horrible and most powerful TYRANT, de∣lighting in damnation and misery. With the pious ELDER of old, may you say, "I have no greater joy, than to hear that my children walk in the truth."
MAY you have the happiness to see your children, increase in learning; preparing to shine as distinguished LIGHTS in the world, and to behold THEM walking in that path, which leads to the heavenly mansions in glory, where there is knowledge to be obtained beyond finite conception, and peace, joys and pleasures beyond expression.
THE youth of this congregation, particularly those that have attended my instructions, shall next claim particular attention in the sequel of the subject.
MY YOUNG FRIENDS,
YOU have heard in this discourse, that your future honor, usefulness and happiness, depend eminently on your education. You will, therefore, while in the morning of your days, prepare yourselves by your education, for honor among mankind, usefulness to the world, and profit to yourselves, when the voices of your parents can no more be heard, nor their hands be stretched out no longer for your assistance. If it is the duty of your parents to instruct you, and to provide for you the means of education, it is then your indispensable duty, to hearken to all their faithful and benevolent admonitions, precepts and instructions; and gratefully to improve every opportunity, which they may afford you for obtaining useful knowledge.
NOW is the best and only time for the proper improvement and cultivation of your minds. Be intreated then, to attend diligently to all the means of instruction, with which your PARENTS in love may favor you.
BUT above all, you must seek to obtain the know∣edge of God; and of his Son Jesus Christ, and the way of Salvation through HIM, as it is revealed in the Gospel. To this END, you will faithfully attend to the instructions of pious PARENTS and TEACHERS. Heavenly knowledge, is highly recommended to your choice in repeated instances by the wise, virtuous and learned Preacher of Israel. This is his language:—
"MY Son, hear the instruction of thy FATHER, and forsake not the law of thy MOTHER: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck." "Hear ye children the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law. For I was my FATHER'S son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my MOTHER." My Father taught me, and my Mother frequently instructed me—"And said unto me, let thine heart retain my words; keep my commandments and live." "Take fast hold of instruction; let her not go; keep her; for she is thy life." "Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to" her. Many more passages might be easily cited, were it necessary, in which wisdom and instruction are highly recommended to the choice of Youth.
AMONG the great variety you shall only once more be referred to the story of the wise Preacher's choice, when God in the days of his youth, thus addressed him, "Ask what I shall give thee." His choice, my young friends, teaches you that wisdom or a wise and understanding heart, is to be chosen and preferred as far more valuable than all earthly honors, riches and pleasures. While health, riches and victory, were spreading their alluring charms before the young Monarch, recommending themselves to his choice, when wisdom appeared, it was with her alone, with which he was captivated. While it is an accepted time, be persuaded to imitate Solomon in his choice; and like him, may you be wise to know the God of your fathers, and to serve HIM with a perfect heart and willing mind. Your youthful days are fleeting fast; and will soon be gone. Expiring time will soon scatter hoary hairs among the most beautiful locks; "draw furrows on the smoothest brow; and blast the roses on the finest cheek." Those, therefore, who, AFTER their youthful and vigorous days are past, would appear amiable and beautiful, must have their minds adorned with heavenly wisdom, and their hearts replenished with the graces of the divine SPIRIT. May you be continually abounding in true knowledge and wisdom; in true piety and virtue; and in every good word and work. When done with time, may you be admitted to the full fruition of the joys and pleasures of heaven; where you will ever be increasing in knowledge; flourishing in immortal youth; and glowing with crowns and diadems of dazzling beauty, through the rolling and ceaseless ages of Eternity.
IN a word, to comprehend, "THE ONE THING NEEDFUL," which involves in it, knowledge the most important, as well as all riches, honors and pleasures, is to have a spiritual knowledge of HIM, whom to know aright is Life eternal.
TO conclude therefore; May we all both young and old, be trained up for everlasting life; and when through death's dark vault we shall have passed, may we through faith in the merits of the REDEEMER, be admit∣ted to the delightful participation of the perfectly blessed in glory.